Online nursing programs are a highly-profitable investment, given that the more you study, the more you'll earn in your medical career. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, there were more than 4 million nurses in the workforce in 2018, and the field is expected to grow by 11% between 2020 and 2030.
If you’re currently working, short on time, or interested in pursuing or advancing your nursing career, then remote learning might be the best option for you. Here’s everything you need to know about getting an online nursing degree and selecting the best school for this.
While you might be interested in either progressing your nursing career or switching professions to the medical field, the thought of going back to school may be daunting, or even impossible.
Attending an online nursing school can be the ideal solution for many reasons—but it’s not for everyone. Here are a few things you should know before signing up.
Online learning is generally more flexible than a traditional university, but online nursing courses can be complicated due to the need for clinical experience. You'll have to organize this experience yourself, which can be difficult without practical assistance from your school.
Different schools also provide different levels of support here. It’s a good idea to look for one that offers students help with searching for clinical placements.
In many other senses, online learning is a more convenient alternative to a traditional university. To begin with, you don’t have to stop working or dedicate a chunk of your life towards schooling.
This is helpful not just for those who can’t afford to take a break from employment, but also if you're planning on advancing your career. When you work and learn at the same time, you can get both the qualification and the hands-on experience that will help accelerate your career.
What’s more, online nursing courses give you the flexibility to work according to your own timeline. Depending on the program and school, you may be able to take classes that fit around your work commitments, hand in papers and assignments at your leisure, and take final exams when you’re ready for them.
Additionally, most online colleges with nursing degrees offer rolling admissions. That means you can sign up for a course whenever you want, rather than having to wait for a new semester to begin.
Finally, online BSN programs and other accredited online nursing degrees provide the convenience of non-location-based learning. There’s no commuting, dorming, or relocating to worry about, and you have a wider range of institutions to choose from if you choose to earn your BSN online.
There are different types of nursing degrees available online and in person. To become a registered nurse (RN), you’ll need to earn your associate’s nursing degree and then pass the national licensing exam called the NCLEX-RN.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is designed to help you advance your medical knowledge and career prospects. However, you will still need to pass your RN exam before you can practice nursing. With a BSN, you will be able to access higher-paying jobs and specialist roles such as nurse educators and forensic nurses.
Ultimately, the best online nursing degree programs offer the same level of quality education as in-person schools. Online and in-person degrees should cover the same content and skills, and they are viewed equally by employers. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of which learning style works best for you.
However, if you're tight on time, currently employed, or looking to advance your nursing career on a budget, then the best online nursing programs will provide you with the flexibility, convenience, and affordability you're looking for.
There are numerous options out there for completing nursing classes online. Zeroing in on the most important features can help you select the perfect program for your needs. Must-haves will differ slightly from one student to the next, but the priorities you’ll definitely want to put at the top of your list include the following:
It’s essential to get your online nursing degree from an institution that is accredited. This is basically the stamp of approval that a college is legitimate, covers all the requirements, conforms with the proper regulations, and holds to the proper standard of educational level for a respected degree.
Check that the school you're looking at is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). It’s also worth looking into regional and national accreditation to ensure you’re choosing a top-quality option.
Another important feature is the ability to easily communicate and connect with professors and tutors. Since you won’t have regular face-to-face meetings, you want to know that there is someone you can reach out to for questions, clarifications, or guidance.
The best online nursing degrees come with career and degree advisors, online communities, and open lines of communication with teachers and staff to help you out when the need arises.
You’ll want to look for a school that helps you find an appropriate healthcare establishment to complete your clinical experience. If you’re already working in a medical facility, you may be able to fulfill your requirements there. Otherwise, you'll need to find somewhere willing to take you on.
Even if you secure your placement yourself, you’ll need guidance from your college on whether or not the facility is suitable.
Finally, look for an online school for nursing degrees with the type of degree you're interested in (more on that below).
The right program for you will depend on your career goals. You’ll find all levels of nursing degrees online, including everything from entry-level associate’s degrees and online bachelor's degrees in nursing to doctoral degrees and master’s:
Different nursing degree programs will vary the curriculum slightly, but all colleges with nursing degrees will include homework assignments, projects, required reading, and clinical hours to earn your degree. Courses may include the following classes:
You can also expect different content with different degree levels or specialties.
Ready to earn your online registered nurse degree? Before you surge forward ready to take on the world, let’s make sure you're all set to make the most out of your learning process.
Before starting your nursing classes online, there are a few things that you can do to maximize your productivity:
Remote learning is not the same as in-person learning. The technology involved can be difficult to use if you’re new to it. The following will help you ensure you’re set up for success from the beginning.
As with technology, you don’t want to come to the first day without knowing what to expect. Look over the course syllabus before the start of the class. This way, you won’t find yourself trying to figure out key terms instead of engaging with the lesson content.
Getting a nursing degree online is a convenient option that’s perfect for people with limited time or other commitments that prevent them from attending a physical institution. Studying remotely can be a flexible and affordable way of achieving your career goals, but keep in mind that nursing degrees require a clinical placement that you’ll need to complete at an approved healthcare facility.